Marquez starts title fight in front at Valencia

Repsol Honda rookie leads the way on first day of practice

Marc Marquez threw down the gauntlet today during free practice at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit ahead of Sunday’s GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana in a week that could see him becoming the youngest ever rookie to win the MotoGP World Championship with the 20-year-old setting the fastest time ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa and main championship rival Jorge Lorenzo who is in search of his third MotoGP World Championship title for the Yamaha Factory Racing team.

It was good to start the most important week of the season and with a good feeling.

Marc Marquez

The three Spaniards were the fastest all day and in the end it was Marquez who finished on top of the time sheets on a 1m 31.220s lap while Pedrosa reversed this morning’s positions with his best time of 1m 31.286s fast enough to finish ahead of Lorenzo with the reigning World Champion setting a best lap of 1m 31.378s. There was some misfortune for Britain’s Cal Crutchlow who, despite crashing his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, finished in fourth place with a best time of 1m 31.502s ahead of Valentino Rossi who caused some drama off track when he announced that after 14 years he is to part ways with crew chief Jerry Burgess after this weekend.

Rossi’s top time of 1m 31.639s faster than Stefan Bradl in 6th for the LCR Honda team with a best time of 1m 31.858s seeing the German rider ahead of the second satellite Honda machine of Alvaro Bautista for the GO&Fun Honda Gresini team with a fastest lap of 1m 31.873s. Bradley Smith ended day one in 8th on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine with 1m 31.984s laptime and rounding out the top ten was the Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso (1m 32.363s) and Nicky Hayden (1m 32.395s). The best CRT rider today was Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro who also crashed but his best time of 1m 32.809s was not to be beaten.

Speaking afterwards, Marquez was focused on improving his machine ahead of Sunday’s race. He said, “It was good to start the most important week of the season and with a good feeling. We still need to improve our setup but we were fastest today - which is the key thing ahead of Sunday's race. Tomorrow we will continue in the same way but try to improve and take another step forward because I am sure that the rest of the riders will do so.”

Pedrosa was also working hard on his RC213V’s setup saying, “Today we were able to work with the soft and hard compound tyres, but the track conditions weren't ideal and the bike was sliding a lot. We will have to be very focused, because the level of the other riders is high at the moment and everyone is riding fast. For tomorrow we shall concentrate on improving certain aspects of the bike and continue with the working method that we have been using.”

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

Lorenzo wasn’t thrilled with the conditions today but is ultra focused on Sunday’s race. He said, “This afternoon was very windy so it was very difficult to make the same lap time of the morning but we managed to improve it a little bit. We adjusted the bike a little electronically and also the suspension. We are quite close to everyone and ready to keep working tomorrow.”

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Practice reports
Tags featured, hatch, honda, lorenzo, marquez, pedrosa, repsol, valencia, yamaha